Yesterday, Sports Illustrated released a feature on former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. The cover story caused an uproar for making accusations that Mathieu “allowed his image to be used on a flyer promoting an event at a local night club” last March while he was still a member of the football team, which would be a violation of NCAA rule 126.96.36.199. The cover story also alleges Mathieu received benefits at the club that could affect his eligibility.
And therein lies the angle, which was explained by John Infante of the Bylaw Blog. If Mathieu is working toward rejoining the team — if LSU even considers taking him back — the reinstatement process could be a lengthy one with no guarantee that the Honey Badger would be cleared to suit up for the Tigers in 2013.
But I digress, because that’s dealing in something that hasn’t happened yet.
However, the SI feature also points out that current LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson was included on one flyer for a club party. That, obviously, could carry more immediate ramifications. Below is the paragraph mentioning Johnson:
Several of the Era Nation videos promote events at a Baton Rouge club called The Palace. One in particular encourages viewers to attend an Era Nation party at the club on March 10, 2012. Mathieu appears in the video, and an event promoter says “the whole LSU football team” will be there. A flyer for the party has two photographs of Mathieu in his LSU jersey and describes the event as an “Era Nation Album Release Party For Tyrann Mathieu.” It also features photographs of former LSU standout Mo Claiborne and current LSU sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who are listed as the party’s hosts. Johnson denied any involvement; Clairborne says he was aware of the party but did not attend.
Going back to the bylaw mentioned above, any player who “accepts any remuneration or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind” is ineligible. In this case, Johnson would’ve had to allow his image to be used on the flyer for promotional purposes for his eligibility to be in question. As mentioned in the cover story, he’s already denied that.
LSU coach Les Miles also asserted confidence in his weekly SEC coaches’ teleconference that Johnson did not violate any bylaws.
“The only thing I can tell you is we’ve discussed this with Anthony, and Anthony said he participated as everyone else would participate, the cover to go in,” Miles said. “If they used his likeness they were not given his permission and he asked to be taken off.
“I’m trying to remember this thing in March. I don’t even know that I was up to speed on it for a March event. I am told that our guys did the right things and did not participate in the planning stage or a promotional piece.”
Additionally, LSU associate athletic director Herb Vincent told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that Johnson informed school officials that he 1) had no knowledge of his photo being used on the flyer and 2) did not receive any extra benefits.
Call the rule silly and/or pointless, but it’s a rule nonetheless, and it can complicate things even if it’s difficult to trace back to the athlete in question.